How to pack a horse hoof with ichthammol

Updated July 20, 2017

Alternatively soaking a hoof in warm water and Epsom salts and then packing the hoof with a drawing poultice, such as Ichthammol, are common methods used to help draw an abscess out of a horse's hoof. Packing the hoof allows the Ichthammol to remain in constant contact with the hoof, but avoids the softening of the hoof wall that can be caused by continuous soaking.

Place the horse's halter on the horse and secure it, either by attaching cross ties to the halter or by having someone hold the lead rope.

Put disposable gloves on both hands. Ichthammol is very sticky and will stain your hands if you do not use gloves.

Unfold a diaper and lay it within reach, with the unlined-side facing up. Push down against the creases enough so that the diaper lies flat. Leave the plastic on the sticky tabs; the duct tape will hold the diaper in place, and the sticky tabs will not be needed.

Cut 5 strips of duct tape. The strips each should be 6 inches long. Tape an edge of each strip onto something easily accessible, such as the edge of a tack trunk or the edge of a doorway. You will need to be able to grab a piece of tape with one hand once you start wrapping the hoof.

Unscrew the jar of Ichthammol and place within easy reach, preferably wedged against something or between your feet so that it won't move when you dip your hand in and scrape out the ointment.

Lift the horse's affected hoof and scrape out any debris and rocks with the hoof pick.

Swipe the hoof with the stiff brush, making sure that all dirt is removed.

Scrape out a golf ball-sized portion of the Ichthammol with one hand. While supporting the hoof with your other hand, smear the Ichthammol over the sole of the hoof.

Cover the hoof with the diaper so that the sole of the hoof rests in the centre of the unlined side of the diaper. Fold the edges up around the hoof.

Tape the diaper around the narrower portion of the coronet band. Wrap the tape around the narrower portion of the hoof so that it will not slip down. Do not tape the diaper directly to the horse's leg; rather, tape over the diaper.

Add more tape as necessary until the diaper is secure. It should be firm against the leg, and the tape should not travel up above the horse's pastern.


Always seek veterinary attention for any medical issue your horse is having before attempting self-diagnosis or treatment. If your horse has been treated--whether by you or by a vet--and the problem does not resolve, consult your vet.

Things You'll Need

  • Ichthammol
  • Halter and lead rope
  • Hoof pick
  • Stiff brush
  • Disposable rubber gloves
  • Disposable diapers
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
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About the Author

Paige Cerulli has been writing since 2005. She has published articles for "Horse Family Magazine" and "Valley Animals." Cerulli has experience in writing about music and animals. Cerulli graduated from Westfield State College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Music.